For Book Clubs
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The idea for Just Once had come to me over a decade ago when my father, (pictured here in the Air Force in the late 50s, after his service in the 60s and on Air Force One with Betty Ford in the 70s) a Pulitzer Prize nominated photojournalist, was dying of bone cancer. As I sat with him, he suddenly cried out
“Where’s your mother?
Why isn’t she here?”
I could tell he didn’t remember that he and my mother had been divorced for over twenty years and he was married to someone else. And it made me think, What if . . .?
Over the next several years I tried many times to begin the book, but it was too soon. Eventually the time was just right.
There are many things about Charley that are like my father—the talent, the eye, the belief that photojournalism is a sacred calling
to illustrate the truth.
Many things are also different. Charley was young enough to go to Vietnam. He was in the Army, not the Air Force. Charley had an easier upbringing than my dad (that's another book altogether) but a more tragic family life. It’s the way of fiction
to pick and choose.
Frankie and Hannah are totally fictional and came to me as I wrote, as most of my characters do. They talk, they live, they think, they feel, and I decide what to keep and what to toss as they become
alive to me and, hopefully, to you.
Please click the buttons for Book Club discussion questions, as well as deleted scenes.